What elements should meeting planners look for when sourcing to forge better group connections

With the focus on the return of meetings, many meeting planners are seeking unforgettable locations for their next event that will provide ease and accessibility for their attendees.

woman wearing pearls and black dress shirt with long mesh sleeves
Kate De Master

In this post-pandemic world, many groups are more comfortable being indoors than they have been over the past few years. However, we are continuing to see a trend of many attendees wanting to spend time outdoors. The trend of being outside is continuing to be a driver for events and plays a key role in many aspects of planning a meeting from the selection of a venue’s location and dining experiences to group activities and increased networking times.

While many downtown locations lack the outdoor space and opportunities for a more leisure-inspired getaway experience, an “urban oasis” setting can be the key to providing the best of both worlds for attendees. Here are my top tips on ways to leverage your next downtown function.

Venue Sourcing Win-Wins

When deciding on an event location, it is crucial that planners consider the destination’s proximity to a prominent airport, access to convenient ground transportation and nearby activities and attractions. The closer groups are to these necessary amenities, the easier getting to the function will be, which will translate to less stressed attendees. When attendees are less stressed from the frustrations of extended or delayed travel, they are more likely to enjoy the event. Additionally, most downtown urban core properties are specifically positioned for business and tourism, providing guests with direct access to the culture and attractions of the city.

While the convenience of the city is important, it is also important to consider the leisure-focused activities a destination will offer attendees as well as the access it provides to spending time outdoors. An “urban oasis” like downtown Jacksonville can offer the best of both worlds. Guests have the opportunity to experience local restaurants and stores, prominent historical sites, world-class museums and sporting events, all complemented by the oasis setting of our beautiful and expansive riverfront and close proximity to the area’s premier beaches.

Set the Stage with an Inspiring Outdoor Meeting Setting

The purpose of hosting an event is for people to learn and network, so it’s important to set the stage with an inspiring setting and there’s no better way to do that than by getting outside and showcasing the destination. In addition to providing inspiring settings for groups, taking a meeting outdoors helps to break up the function and keep attendees refreshed and focused.

Read More: Discover Florida’s First Coast

I’ve seen several organizations start the day with a morning yoga session overlooking the river on one of our hotel’s river deck venues, or take a quick running or walking break on the several surrounding trails to help attendees reset after a long session. Another trend I’ve noticed is that many planners are opting for al fresco dining with food stations or a set-up of multiple food trucks where attendees can select their preferred cuisine.

Ask Questions and Leverage the Venue’s Partnerships

When coordinating an event, planners should ask their venue about their relationship with the destination’s convention and visitors bureau, as well as other partner organizations. I’ve found that a large portion of meetings have active missions, goals, wellness and charity initiatives that align with our hotel and partner organizations, so there have been many times when we have all worked together to help facilitate those goals.

Read MoreWhy Meeting Planners Should Put Wellness First

For example, through the Together by Hyatt program here at our hotel, we can assist groups in securing guest speakers, creating unique experiences and utilize technology in new and interactive ways for the benefit of a meeting. Our team also works with several partners that can assist groups with corporate social responsibility programs such as Re-Threaded, an organization that supports human trafficking rehabilitation, where groups can give back.

Kate De Master is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville. With more than 20 years of experience planning unforgettable meeting experiences, De Master has worked at several Hyatt properties throughout the country, from Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago to Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor.